By John Ubaldi, To view adbridge version go to In Homeland Security News—
With the Democrats wresting control of the House of Representatives away from the Republicans for the first since 2010, we are now back to divided government and how this impacts the country is anybody’s guess; do we get compromise, gridlock or down right warfare?
When the new Congress takes hold it will be a continuation of the old with Washington mired in a partial government shutdown over funding for President Trump’s border wall and with the crisis of illegal Central American migrants knocking on the door of the U.S. wanting to be let in.
End the Government Shutdown
The first order of business for Washington as it begins the New Year with divided government as the Democrats control the House and the Republicans controlling the Senate and the presidency is to end the government shutdown.
How this happens and in what form it take’s we will know in the coming days.
The government shutdown is the most contentious issue to start the New Year as both Trump and Democrats have hardened their positions with neither side willing to blink, Democrats refuse to allocate revenue for a border wall and the president not willing to accept anything less.
Replacements for Cabinet Secretaries
Other controversial issues will have to be addressed especially as two prominent cabinet secretaries the Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General both having left the administration, under very extraordinary circumstances will have to be replaced.
The first being Secretary of Defense James Mattis who tendered his resignation last month with his final day to be effective at the end of February, but now having left on Jan 1st with Patrick Shanahan now acting as interim defense secretary until his replacement is named.
The most controversial of all will be the replacement for the Attorney General; President Trump has nominated William Barr, who incidentally held this role under President George H. W. Bush, will now assume that position pending Senate confirmation.
With the Republican Party holding the Senate and even increased their majority in last year’s mid-term election this gives the president a little bit of breathing room then he had before, but whoever the president selects as defense secretary should be confirmed easily; the Attorney General will be where the fireworks will come from.
An Uneasy confirmation Process
The confirmation process won’t be easy for Barr as the Democratic Party will certainly seize on a memo he sent to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Assistant Attorney General Steve Engel regarding a serious flaw in a federal provision with regard to obstruction of justice as it relates to the Russian collusion probe being conducted by Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel’s office.
The Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee will try to portray Barr as a lackey to Trump and unable to stand up to him, thus using this memo as evidence he will end the investigation into Russian collusion by the president and his associates.
For two years Trump has faced investigations from all sides and with the Democratic Party in the minority, Republicans had blocked many of the areas the Democrats wanted to investigate, and but they lacked subpoena power well that has now changed!
How will House Democrats use Subpoena Power?
The question that is unknown is how will the Democratic Party now that they have majority control of the House of Representatives, and subpoena authorization, how will they use that power?
This is a question the Democrats are wrestling with, will they investigate all aspects of the Trump administration and Trump himself or will they legislate, if history is any guide they may want to reflect back to 1998, when Republicans tried to impeach President Clinton and the public punished them at the polls that same year.
The progressive base wants to investigate all aspects of Trump and his presidency, and many are eager to pursue impeachment of the president while the more established members of the party want to table such talk and focus on issues that will play out in the 2020 presidential election.
How Will Progressive Polices Impact 2020 Presidential Election
With 30 or more Democrats all vying for the presidency in 2020, and most all are pursuing very liberal policy agenda’s, will they coalesce around this energized youthful progressive base, and if they do how will this impact the presidential race?
2019 will definitely see a continuation of 2018 where Republicans have been placing an ideological stamp on the federal judiciary by having Trump appoint more conservative justices and having them fast tracked to the federal courts by a Republican controlled Senate, this will only continue in the reshaping of the federal courts for decades to come.
The mid-terms expanded Republican majority and now with the recent news that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had cancerous nodules removed from her lungs, Trump may have the chance to select a third conservative Supreme Court nominee to the highest court, the first time a president has had that many selections to the court since President Reagan.
Democrats will now have a say in Governing
Now that we have divided government, Democrats who now control the House will have a say in how the country is governed, but nothing has drawn more contrasts between the two parties, but especially with an energized progressive wing of the Democratic Party in what role should Washington play?
Progressives want a major expansion of the federal government which only alienates Democrats in more rural and suburban areas of the country this is split in an enlarged federal bureaucracy clashes with those advocating free market solutions.
Progressives Push for Expanding the Federal Government
The unanswered question is how will the new Democratic Party majority govern, with so many newcomers favoring progressive polices, will they try and push for Medicare-for All, free college, elimination of all student loan debt, guaranteed federal job with benefits, and especially a “Green New Deal’ that moves America away from fossil fuels toward a green economy.
Two most contentious issues that have never been resolved is how to draw down the national debt and reform the nation’s health care system as both issues will certainly revolve around taxes, spending, and Medicare-For-All health system for the country..
All of these issues Democrats campaigned on especially the progressive members of the House who want to repeal the Trump tax cuts, raise taxes on the wealthy in paying for this expansion of many of these federal programs. How incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi handles her now energized progressive base will test her political acumen.
No longer in the minority the new Democratic Party majority in the House will have to either compromise with the president or come up with a plan of their own knowing it will fail in the Republican control Senate and would assuredly be rejected by the president, but will set the stage for 2020 presidential election campaign .